People flocked to the outdoors in 2020 due to the pandemic, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area was a top destination.

The U.S. Forest Service released its permit and visitors use report for 2016 - 2020 and the amount of visitors went up 16% from 2019. 165,918 visitors escaped to the Boundary Waters in 2020, compared to 143,140 in 2019.

2019 was actually a slow year compared to 2016 - 2018, the average number of visitors over those three years was 152,979. The total number of permits issued for 2020 was 49,208, that's up from 40,186 in 2019, a 22% increase.

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Most of the visitors to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Superior National Forest came between May 1st and September 30th, only 7% of visitors traveled to the BWCAW from October 1st - April 30th.

May 1st through September 30th is what the U.S. Forest Service calls the "quota season" and the amount of visitors during this time in 2020 was up 25% versus 2019.

With the increase in traffic, comes an increase in problems, the Star Tribune reports that there were increased incidents of trash and toilet paper left behind, and some reports of trees being cut down.

The Forest Service believes that because many of the permits were issued virtually last year, many of the visitors didn't get a chance to learn about the "leave no trace" rule, generally visitors are required to watch a series of three videos before they leave for their trip into the BWCAW, but it was hard to show those videos last year with the pandemic in full swing.

This year before users are able to secure their permits online, they'll be required to watch one video about the basics of visiting the wilderness area, the video is just short of three minutes, and you can see the video below.

If you plan on visiting this year, make sure you are making reservations early, as 2021 is expected to be another very busy year, maybe even busier than 2020. Visit here for all the information you need about visiting the BWCAW.

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